James Earl Jones performs Othello's Defense Before The Venetian Senate - from Shakespeare's Othello Act 1 Scene 3 - at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word on 12 May 2009. Othello: Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors, My very noble and approved good masters, That I have taken away this good man's daughter, It is most true; true, I have married her: The very head and front of my offending Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech, And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace: For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith, Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used Their dearest action in the tented field, And little of this great world can I speak, More than pertains to feats of broil and battle, And therefore little shall I grace my cause In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience, I will a round unvarnished tale deliver Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms, What conjuration and what mighty magic, For such proceeding I am charged withal ... Her father loved me; oft invited me; Still questioned me the story of my life, From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, That I have passed. I ran it through, even from my boyish days, To the very moment that he bade me tell it; Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances, Of moving accidents by flood and field; Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach; Of being taken by the insolent foe And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence And portance in my travels' history: Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle, Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven, It was my hint to speak, -- such was the process; And of the Cannibals that each other eat, The Anthropophagi and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear Would Desdemona seriously incline: But still the house affairs would draw her thence: Which ever as she could with haste dispatch, She'd come again, and with a greedy ear Devour up my discourse: which I observing, Took once a pliant hour, and found good means To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart That I would all my pilgrimage dilate, Whereof by parcels she had something heard, But not intentively: I did consent, And often did beguile her of her tears, When I did speak of some distressful stroke That my youth suffered. My story being done, She gave me for my pains a world of sighs: She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange, 'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful: She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished That heaven had made her such a man: she thanked me, And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her, I should but teach him how to tell my story, And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake: She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them. This only is the witchcraft I have used: Here comes the lady; let her witness it.
Lucille Sharp (as Virginia Poe) recites lines from a love poem written by Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe to her husband Edgar Allan Poe - From the 2010 BBC documentary Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death and Women. A Valentine by Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (1822-1847) Ever with thee I wish to roam — Dearest my life is thine. Give me a cottage for my home And a rich old cypress vine, Removed from the world with its sin and care And the tattling of many tongues. Love alone shall guide us when we are there — Love shall heal my weakened lungs; And Oh, the tranquil hours we'll spend, Never wishing that others may see! Perfect ease we'll enjoy, without thinking to lend Ourselves to the world and its glee — Ever peaceful and blissful we'll be. - Written Saturday 14 February 1846
Lord George Gordon Byron - There Is A Pleasure In The Pathless Woods - Read by Tyrone Power There Is A Pleasure In The Pathless Woods Childe Harold - Canto IV - Verse 178 by Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more, From these our interviews, in which I steal From all I may be, or have been before, To mingle with the Universe, and feel What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
William Wordsworth - The Two-Part Prelude - Wordsworth's autobiographical poem about his childhood addressed to his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Performed by John Rowe - Music by Elizabeth Parker - Directed by Cherry Cookson - BBC Radio Four - 10 October 1998 Text of the poem: http://www.facebook.com/notes/poetictouch/the-two-part-prelude/426056794075987
W. H. Auden reads his poem The Capital The Capital by W. H. Auden (1907- 1973) Quarter of pleasures where the rich are always waiting, Waiting expensively for miracles to happen, O little restaurant where the lovers eat each other, Cafe where exiles have established a malicious village; You with your charm and your apparatus have abolished The strictness of winter and spring's compulsion; Far from your lights the outraged punitive father, The dullness of mere obedience here is apparent. Yet with orchestras and glances, O, you betray us To belief in our infinite powers; and the innocent Unobservant offender falls in a moment Victim to his heart's invisible furies. In unlighted streets you hide away the appalling; Factories where lives are made for a temporary use Like collars or chairs, rooms where the lonely are battered Slowly like pebbles into fortuitous shapes. But the sky you illumine, your glow is visible far Into the dark countryside, the enormous, the frozen, Where, hinting at the forbidden like a wicked uncle, Night after night to the farmer's children you beckon.
W. H. Auden reads his poem Precious Five Precious Five W. H. Auden (1907- 1973) Be happy, precious five, So long as I'm alive Nor try to ask me what You should be happy for; Think, if it helps, of love Or alcohol or gold, But do as you are told. I could (which you cannot) Find reasons fast enough To face the sky and roar In anger and despair At what is going on, Demanding that it name Whoever is to blame: The sky would only wait Till all my breath was gone And then reiterate As if I wasn't there That singular command I do not understand, Bless what there is for being, Which has to be obeyed, for What else am I made for, Agreeing or disagreeing.
Katharine Cornell reads Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 6 - Go From Me Go From Me Sonnet 6 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand Henceforth in thy shadow. Nevermore Alone upon the threshold of my door Of individual life, I shall command The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand Serenely in the sunshine as before, Without the sense of that which I forbore — Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine With pulses that beat double. What I do And what I dream include thee, as the wine Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue God for myself, He hears that name of thine, And sees within my eyes the tears of two.
James Franco - as Allen Ginsberg - reads an extract from Ginsberg's long poem Howl in a scene from the 2010 film Howl: Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an angel! The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is holy as you my soul are holy! The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy! Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cassady holy the unknown buggered and suffering beggars holy the hideous human angels! Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks of the grandfathers of Kansas! Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana hipsters peace & junk & drums! ... Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch! Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss! Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours! bodies! suffering! magnanimity! Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!
Charles Simic reads his poem Stone Stone by Charles Simic (1938-) Go inside a stone. That would be my way. Let somebody else become a dove Or gnash with a tiger's tooth. I am happy to be a stone. From the outside the stone is a riddle: No one knows how to answer it. Yet within, it must be cool and quiet Even though a cow steps on it full weight, Even though a child throws it in a river; The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed To the river bottom Where the fishes come to knock on it And listen. I have seen sparks fly out When two stones are rubbed, So perhaps it is not dark inside after all; Perhaps there is a moon shining From somewhere, as though behind a hill — Just enough light to make out The strange writings, the star-charts On the inner walls.
Charles Simic reads his poem Shelley Shelley by Charles Simic (1938-) Poet of the dead leaves driven like ghosts, Driven like pestilence-stricken multitudes, I read you first One rainy evening in New York City, In my atrocious Slavic accent, Saying the mellifluous verses From a battered, much-stained volume I had bought earlier that day In a second-hand bookstore on Fourth Avenue Run by an initiate of the occult masters. The little money I had being almost spent, I walked the streets my nose in the book. I sat in a dingy coffee shop With last summer's dead flies on the table. The owner was an ex-sailor Who had grown a huge hump on his back While watching the rain, the empty street. He was glad to have me sit and read. He'd refill my cup with a liquid dark as river Styx. Shelley spoke of a mad, blind, dying king; Of rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know; Of graves from which a glorious Phantom may Burst to illumine our tempestuous day. I too felt like a glorious phantom Going to have my dinner In a Chinese restaurant I knew so well. It had a three-fingered waiter Who'd bring my soup and rice each night Without ever saying a word. I never saw anyone else there. The kitchen was separated by a curtain Of glass beads which clicked faintly Whenever the front door opened. The front door opened that evening To admit a pale little girl with glasses. The poet spoke of the everlasting universe Of things ... of gleams of a remoter world Which visit the soul in sleep ... Of a desert peopled by storms alone ... The streets were strewn with broken umbrellas Which looked like funereal kites This little Chinese girl might have made. The bars on MacDougal Street were emptying. There had been a fist fight. A man leaned against a lamp post arms extended as if crucified, The rain washing the blood off his face. In a dimly lit side street, Where the sidewalk shone like a ballroom mirror At closing time — A well-dressed man without any shoes Asked me for money. His eyes shone, he looked triumphant Like a fencing master Who had just struck a mortal blow. How strange it all was ... The world's raffle That dark October night ... The yellowed volume of poetry With its Splendors and Glooms Which I studied by the light of storefronts: Drugstores and barbershops, Afraid of my small windowless room Cold as a tomb of an infant emperor.
Vincent Price reads Edgar Allan Poe's The Conqueror Worm - From the short story Ligeia The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) Lo! 'tis a gala night Within the lonesome latter years! An angel throng, bewinged, bedight In veils, and drowned in tears, Sit in a theatre, to see A play of hopes and fears, While the orchestra breathes fitfully The music of the spheres. Mimes, in the form of God on high, Mutter and mumble low, And hither and thither fly; Mere puppets they, who come and go At bidding of vast formless things That shift the scenery to and fro, Flapping from out their Condor wings Invisible Wo! That motley drama! -- oh, be sure It shall not be forgot! With its Phantom chased forever more, By a crowd that seize it not, Through a circle that ever returneth in To the self-same spot, And much of Madness and more of Sin And Horror the soul of the plot. But see, amid the mimic rout, A crawling shape intrude! A blood-red thing that writhes from out The scenic solitude! It writhes! -- it writhes! -- with mortal pangs The mimes become its food, And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs In human gore imbued. Out -- out are the lights -- out all! And over each quivering form, The curtain, a funeral pall, Comes down with the rush of a storm, And the angels, all pallid and wan, Uprising, unveiling, affirm That the play is the tragedy, "Man," And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
Katharine Cornell reads Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 14 - If Thou Must Love Me If Thou Must Love Me Sonnet 14 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love's sake only. Do not say, "I love her for her smile — her look — her way Of speaking gently, — for a trick of thought That falls in well with mine, and certes brought A sense of pleasant ease on such a day" — For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may Be changed, or change for thee — and love, so wrought, May be unwrought so. Neither love me for Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry, — A creature might forget to weep, who bore Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby! But love me for love's sake, that evermore Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.
Katharine Cornell reads Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 - How Do I Love Thee? How Do I Love Thee? Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Robert Browning - My Last Duchess - Read by Steven Pacey My Last Duchess by Robert Browning (1812-1889) Ferrara That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said "Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so, not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat." Such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace - all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men - good! but thanked Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech - which I have not - to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark" - and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse - E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretense Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. Nay we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
Mahmoud Darwish - A Lesson From The Kama Sutra - An Extract Translated & Read by Sarah Maguire A Lesson From The Kama Sutra An Extract Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) With a goblet fasioned from lapis lazuli, Wait for her. At dusk in a grove of orange trees in bloom, Wait for her. With the patience of a horse trained in the mountains, Wait for her. With the exquisite taste and breeding of a prince, Wait for her. With seven cusions stuffed with clouds, Wait for her. With schemes of fragrant incense wafting through your rooms, Wait for her. With the masculine scent of sandalwood and leather, Wait for her. If she is late in arriving, have patience, Then wait for her.
Tom Deveson reads John Donne's The Token at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on 26 April 2012 during a special event celebrating Donne's life and work. The event was presented in association with Poet In The City and Winning Words. The Token by John Donne (1572-1631) Send me some token, that my hope may live, Or that my easeless thoughts may sleep and rest; Send me some honey to make sweet my hive, That in my passions I may hope the best. I beg no riband wrought with thine own hands, To knit our loves in the fantastic strain Of new-touched youth; nor ring to show the stands Of our affection, that, as that's round and plain, So should our loves meet in simplicity; No, nor the corals which thy wrist enfold, Laced up together in congruity, To show our thoughts should rest in the same hold; No, nor thy picture, though most gracious, And most desired, because best like the best; Nor witty lines, which are most copious, Within the writings which thou hast addressed. Send me nor this, nor that, to increase my store, But swear thou think'st I love thee, and no more.